Zucchini does not have a strong taste of their own, which is why there is hardly a dog who rejects them. When served as a side dish to a meat meal, most dogs are unlikely to even notice it. But even if they are usually eaten without contradiction, that doesn’t have to mean that zucchini are also healthy for dogs – so the question is:
Can dogs eat raw zucchini?
Yes, dogs are allowed to eat zucchini, but only if you have tasted them beforehand. Zucchini is quite healthy for your dog, but it can contain dangerous bitter substances (cucurbitacin) that can make them seriously ill.
You can only rule this out by not feeding any zucchini at all, or only those that you have tried yourself beforehand.
Bitter substances in cucurbits
Zucchini belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family-like cucumbers and melons. All members of the pumpkin family can develop bitter substances that are poisonous – cucurbitacins.
Zucchini in particular can develop particularly high concentrations under certain circumstances. The bitter taste should be warning enough not to consume affected vegetables.
Dogs do not recognize bitter substances well
This only works with dogs with restrictions. On the one hand, their ability to taste bitter substances is less pronounced than in humans. On the other hand, dogs gobble down their food. You do not chew and therefore only notice the bitter taste – if at all – when it is already too late.
In the recent past, the media reported some fatal poisoning accidents attributed to zucchini previously consumed by victims. These were zucchini that were bred in home gardens.
Commercial zucchini usually do not contain cucurbitacins. The producers only use seeds of special varieties from which the bitter substances were bred.
Be careful with zucchinis from your garden
Hobby gardeners often use their seeds, which they collect from the fruits of the previous year. In this way, the original zucchini, which contains a lot of bitter substances, are unintentionally reared.
Unfortunately, the conclusion that bought zucchini can safely be used is also not without risk. Recent studies on cucumbers have shown that the plants under stress (heat, drought, etc.) can develop additional bitter substances in considerable concentrations. This can also no longer be ruled out for actually harmless zucchini varieties.
It has also been found that nearby pumpkins, which contain a lot of cucurbitacins, can lead to vegetables grown as food also having an increased content of cucurbitacins due to pollen and fertilization.
All in all, this means that you can never rule out that zucchini contain cucurbitacin that is toxic. Cooking does not change the poisonous bitter substances.
What is clear is that if zucchini can reach a concentration that leads to fatal consequences in adults, then a dog is also at risk due to its lower body weight.
A taste test helps
Therefore, the only way to be sure to rule out poisonous zucchini is the taste test. If you want to give your dog zucchini, you have to try them yourself beforehand, because unfortunately, he can’t taste it.
However, that also means you shouldn’t leave it unattended with zucchini that you haven’t tested yet.
You shouldn’t feed your dog bitter zucchini!
Zucchini that taste even slightly bitter should be disposed of in order not to take any unnecessary risk. The opinion often expressed in connection with pumpkins that the cucurbitacin content cannot rise so high that one could poison oneself because the vegetables concerned would then be so bitter that no one would eat them voluntarily should be viewed with skepticism.
It cannot be ruled out that this view is now out of date.
Zucchini – actually healthy for the dog
Unpolluted zucchini are in principle very suitable as a side dish for a dog meal. They are low in calories and high in essential vitamins and minerals.
Since they also have certain fiber content and have an alkaline effect in the digestive system, nothing speaks against zucchini if they have been tested as “not bitter”.
Vitamins and minerals in zucchini
Zucchini is high in vitamin A, which is mainly good for your dog’s eyes. They also provide almost all of the B complex vitamins, which are important for nerves and brain metabolism. In addition, there is vitamin E, which can protect the cells from the aging process.
Zucchini’s calcium content makes them healthy. Like humans, dogs need calcium primarily for bones and teeth. Another good thing for dogs is that zucchini can help them balance out the excess phosphorus caused by their meat consumption.
Zucchini also add magnesium to the food bowl. Magnesium supports the muscles and nerves. Dogs who love to move can never get too much of it.
What does your dog like as good as zucchini?
If your dog is fond of zucchini, he probably won’t scorn pumpkin either. The same precautionary measures apply to the pumpkin as to zucchini because of the bitter substances.
Ornamental pumpkins shouldn’t be put in the food bowl at all, because they are almost always full of poisonous cucurbitacins. If you give both pumpkin and zucchini better cooked, then your dog can digest them well and utilize the nutrients properly.
Dog food with zucchini
A ready-made feed with zucchini is available in cans from the Terra Canis brand. There you will find rabbit, beef, and lamb – each in combination with different vegetables and zucchini.
A barf menu is also available as canned food from this manufacturer. It is a combination of chicken, zucchini, Swiss chard, and beetroot.
A clear “yes and no” to zucchini for the dog
Zucchini is generally beneficial to your dog’s diet if you are sure they are not bitter. If you have tried it and found it to be harmless, you are doing your four-legged friend good.
If he likes zucchini, he can have them, because in principle they are very healthy for him.